AILA Presents Professor James Austin with the 2010 Elmer Fried Excellence Award

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
George Tzamaras

Sara Ibrahim

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) awarded James Austin of Austin & Ferguson LLC in Kansas City, MO the 2010 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of outstanding professors in the area of immigration law. He will receive the award on July 3, 2010 during AILA's Annual Conference held in National Harbor, MD.

Austin is entering his eleventh year as Adjunct Professor, teaching Immigration Law & Procedure at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Three years ago his curriculum was seriously challenged when a new professor, Kris Kobach began teaching an overtly biased immigration policy course in alternating semesters along side Austin. According to his firm partner, Angela Ferguson, Austin redesigned his own class in response to Kobach's attack on immigration law by developing a new curriculum with two goals: to force students to develop their own opinions of immigration based on actual facts; and to teach them how to distinguish between facts and biased opinions.

Austin made certain that his course would be taught from a politically neutral position, while simultaneously incorporating student exercises aimed to develop an ability to spot motivational bias and misleading statements in the national immigration debate. Similarly, he ensured students received factual presentations, allowing them to determine their own opinions on immigration based on the facts, rather than common misconceptions. He also modified the usual order of topics in an immigration law class to have the "protection status" subject area be the student's first introduction to this area of law. In addition, he includes eight hours of discussion on the law's response to horrific scenarios immediately forcing students to confront the incredibly personal nature of immigration laws.

Austin is a partner at Austin & Ferguson, L.L.C., a firm exclusively practicing immigration and nationality law in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his Bachelors degree in Administration of Justice and served fifteen years in public and private law enforcement before starting his second career with a J.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 10062969.